Cloud Backup Comparison

Which one is the fastest?

By Stefan Reitshamer
January 21, 2019

We tested some of the leading cloud backup services available in 2019 to see how long it would take to back up and restore files. We recently launched Arq Cloud Backup and wanted to see how it would stack up. Some of the results were surprising! Scroll down to see the speed comparison as well as some other differences among the services.

The Services

We compared our own Arq Cloud Backup offering to 4 other backup services:

The Test

The goal was to see how long it would take each cloud backup service to back up a new MacBook Pro with a 100 GB photo library and then restore the photo library.

The Testing Gear

I wiped the internal drive of a MacBook Pro 15-inch, 2017 model with 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB of RAM, and a 500 internal SSD. Then I installed macOS Mojave 10.14.2. Then I imported about 100 GB of photos into the Photos Library.

The internet connection I used was Verizon Fios Gigabit. Here's the result:

Test #1: Arq Cloud Backup

First up was our own Arq Cloud Backup.

I ran the installer and created a new account. It asked me to add Arq Cloud Backup to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> Full Disk Access, which I did:

Then I clicked Back Up Now and let it finish. In 39 minutes 50 seconds it backed up 98.9 GB, averaging 41 MB/s:

14-Jan-2019 12:56:07 EST Arq Cloud Backup version 1.2.5: backup session started
14-Jan-2019 13:36:57 EST Macintosh HD (/): 98,900,098,188 bytes backed up
14-Jan-2019 13:36:57 EST Arq Cloud Backup session ended

Next I restored the Photos Library (98.346 GB) to an external SSD.

It took 33 minutes 42 seconds to restore 98.436 GB, averaging 48 MB/s:

14-Jan-2019 14:50:00 EST Arq Cloud Backup restore session started
14-Jan-2019 14:50:00 EST Restoring to /Volumes/Red
14-Jan-2019 15:23:42 EST Arq Cloud Backup restore session ended

Test #2: Acronis

Acronis True Image 2019 comes with cloud storage if you pick the Advanced or Premium offering. I purchased the Premium subscription and installed it on my MacBook Pro. I clicked "Add Backup", dragged my Photos Library onto the "Source" area, clicked the "destination" area and chose "Acronis Cloud" and clicked OK.

Then I clicked the "Back Up" button and let it finish.

The backup started at 08:19 and finished at 11:06 for a total of 2 hours 47 minutes, averaging 9.2 MB/s:

Next I restored the Photos Library to an external SSD. It started at 11:10am and finished at 5:26pm for a total of 6 hours 16 minutes, averaging 4.1 MB/s:

Test #3: iDrive

iDrive popped up a dialog right after I installed it and while I was typing in a different window, and whatever key stroke I hit caused the window to disappear before I had a chance to read it. I configured it to back up my Pictures folder (where my Photos Library is), but it said it only backed up 3 files. I didn't get any errors either. I figured this must be the macOS Mojave Full Disk Access problem, but I wanted to see what that dialog was. I uninstalled and reinstalled iDrive, being careful not to touch the keyboard. This is what I accidentally closed the first time:

That explains why the initial backup was only 3 files. I gave iDrive Full Disk Access permission, then did a backup. It uploaded 98.48 GB in 41 minutes 54 seconds, averaging 39.2 MB/s.

Next I restored the Photos Library to an external SSD. That took 1 hour 13 minutes 37 seconds, averaging 22.3 MB/s.

Test #4: Backblaze

I ran the Backblaze installer and added Backblaze to Full Disk Access as it requested.

It said "Selected for backup: 3391 files / 467 MB. Remaining files: 450 files / 430 MB". That didn't sound right. Then it said it was done:

A reboot made the full-disk-access permission take effect; I guess Backblaze needed a restart after getting that permission.

I changed Backblaze's settings a bit: I turned off automatic threading, set the manual throttle to "maximum (faster backups)" and set the number of backup threads to 6 (the maximum suggested by Backblaze). Then I waited for it to finish the initial backup.

The initial backup (after the reboot) started at 4:34am and finished at 7:16am for a total of 2 hours 42 minutes, averaging 9.72 MB/s.

Next I logged into (because that's how you restore with Backblaze), selected my Photos Library and clicked "Continue With Restore":

I got a warning saying it'll take a long time and I should try to break it down into a few smaller restores, but I went ahead because I didn't want to figure out how to break up and reassemble my Photos Library.

I got an email 4 hours 47 minutes later that the 98.55 GB zip file was available for download. I downloaded it via the Backblaze Downloader app as recommended. I downloaded the zip file to an external hard drive with enough free space that I could download the zip file and also unzip it.

After 5 hours 8 minutes I got "ERROR: an unexpected special error occurred". I clicked Retry twice and eventually it finished. Fortunately it didn't seem to start over downloading the entire file.

Not counting the time to unzip the file it took 4:47 + 5:08 + another 10 minutes or so of retrying for a total of 10 hours 5 minutes, averaging 2.71 MB/s.

Test #5: Carbonite

I ran the Carbonite installer and created my account. The Carbonite window said "Your backup is connecting" for 1 hour 12 minutes. Then it switched to "Your backup is running normally".

After 2 hours 29 minutes of uploading it said it had backed up 3.00 GB:

After 3 hours 35 minutes of uploading it said it had backed up 7.91 GB, averaging 613 KB/s:

Extrapolating from the throughput so far, I guessed an initial backup of 98 GB would take 44 hours 24 minutes. Unfortunately I wasn't able to dedicate the network to that task for that long, so I abandoned the Carbonite test.

Performance Test Results

We're happy to report that Arq Cloud Backup was the fastest!

iDrive was also very quick to back up, and pretty quick to restore. Acronis and Backblaze were slower to back up and restore, with Backblaze almost doubling its restore time with preparing the zip file.

Why is Arq Cloud Backup So Fast?

We built Arq Cloud Backup from the ground up to be fast.

Everything in Arq Cloud Backup happens on multiple threads, in parallel -- scanning directories, reading files, encrypting, compressing, and transmitting.

And we use Wasabi for data storage, which has incredibly fast throughput. They have tremendous bandwidth available into their data centers.